Two students accuse school of censorship, quit paper

ARIZONA — Twostudents at Basha High School in Chandler claimed censorship and resigned fromtheir student newspaper last month, while school officials claimed that they hadconducted business as usual.

Senior Ray Ceo, Jr., staff writer andcolumnist for The Grizzly Gazette,resigned citing frustration with the school’s prior review policy, whichhe viewed as censorship. Natasha Karaczan, the student paper’s managingeditor, also resigned, according to an article in the Chandler Independent, a localnewspaper. Karaczan would not comment for this story.

”Thenewspaper has always been previewed by the school administration prior topublication. They, the principal and/or the assistant principal, would manytimes make alterations to the newspaper,” Ceo said. ”Sometimes itwould be grammatical fixes and other times it would be the actual content of thenewspaper.”

District policyallows administrators to exercise priorreview of all student publications, according to an article in theChandler Independent, a local paper.

”Student writers have written articles on many issues,”Assistant Principal Nicolle Karantinos said in an e-mail. ”No article hasbeen cut from the school newspaper.”

But the newspaper’sadviser said administrators have cut articles before.

Liza Sejkora,The Gazette‘s faculty adviser,said content in the paper is edited during the review process for”timeliness, vulgarity, privacy and writingquality.”

”Every issue of the newspaper has had priorreview. It’s the prerogative of the administration to cut articles,”Sejkora said.

But articles that have received negative reaction fromreaders before have passed the administrative prior review process, shesaid.

”We had an article that was about being gay on a highschool campus. I don’t really view that as being something controversial,I just cite that instance because I was contacted by a number of parents whofelt that was an inappropriate topic for a high school paper,” Sejkorasaid. ”We’ve printed a lot of things, I don’t know if the wordcontroversial is necessarily it, but a lot of things that were objected to fromvarious places, including administration.”

Ceo has served forthree years as editor in chief of TheGazette, and in his senior year, he returned as a staff writer.

One of the articles that Ceo said was censored was a story he wroteabout broken sinks in the girls’ bathroom. Sejkora said the story wasuntimely and that the sinks had been fixed by the time the paper had anopportunity to print the story. Ceo said that the sinks were fixed but arebroken again, according to his female friends.

”It [the sinkstory] was killed because the administration did not want an article that[portrayed] the school in a negative light…” Ceo said. ”It couldrun today, and be just as timely as [when] it was written two monthsago.”

Sejkora said she was not aware Ceo or Karaczan wereconcerned about censorship. She assumed the students had quit over personalissues with the editor in chief, she said.

”I do not censor thekids in any way, shape or form,” Sejkora said. ”I let the kidspursue any article they want to and I tell them they need to pursue it withjournalistic ethics.”

Ceo has a different view of thesituation. He said he believes that the newspaper’s content was censoredto be more conservative and silence student opinions that were in opposition tothose of administrators. He was asked by school officials to no longer writecolumns for the newspaper, he said.

”I have all intentions ofbecoming a columnist in the future, and to take this opportunity away from medue to the